MOVING from one point to another is a nightmare for many Dar es Salaam residents, who are left without a choice but to endure long hours, brave the sweltering heat and waste a lot of their valuable time stuck in traffic jams.
The problem is so serious that about 4bn/- loss is incurred every day from traffic jams in Dar es Salaam, which amounts to an estimated over 1.4 trillion/- annually, which is about a sixth of the current budget of the government.
Workers spend hours on their way to workplaces and environmental pollution causes diseases such as cancer which cost huge sums of money to treat.
According to a survey by the Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI), traffic jams are eating up to 20 per cent of annual profits of most businesses. While the problem of congestion affects all sectors of the economy, companies that deal with the supply of fast moving consumer goods such as beverages, edible oil, bread and soap constantly find it very hard to timely make deliveries incurring extra costs in the process.
Until very recently, congestion was mainly during ‘rush hours’ in the mornings and evenings when people were going to work or returning home. However, today, with more than 120,000 private vehicles plying the city’s roads daily, jams are even there on weekends. To make matters worse, these private vehicles carry only six per cent of residents with 480,000 of their seats lacking passengers.
The city has more than 6,000 commuter buses that carry only 43 per cent of the city dwellers while about 90 per cent of the buses carry fewer than 30 passengers.
What is more disturbing is that despite efforts made by various stakeholders to ease the situation, traffic jams in Dar es Salaam are increasingly getting worse and are now being experienced in almost all major roads and routes.
Unlike in the recent past, traffic jams are currently experienced at all times of the day with the situation worsening whenever there is a heavy downpour due to a dilapidated and wanting sewerage system. Promises and assurances to deal with the problem are yet to be fulfilled despite strategies being drawn, plans put in place and proposals forwarded from various stakeholders.
All hope, however, is not lost as the Japanese government has agreed to finance construction of flyovers in Dar es Salaam.
This was revealed by the Minister for Infrastructure Development, Dr Shukuru Kawambwa in Parliament last week, adding that Japan would finance survey and construction of the flyovers in six major road junctions in the city.
“The government in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has completed a plan for Dar es Salaam roads which has indicated areas where flyovers are to be built,” said the minister.
He revealed that the earmarked junctions are Tazara (Nyerere/Mandela roads, Ubungo (Sam Nujoma/Morogoro roads, Magomeni (Kawawa/Morogoro roads), Jangwani (Mororogoro/United Nations), Kamata (Msimbazi/Nyerere roads) and Chang’ombe (Nyerere/Kawawa roads).
This comes at a time when a number of initiatives have been undertaken to make the city more navigable. Among them is the construction of 10 roads and rehabilitation of several others.
The minister also pointed out that one of the new roads where construction has reached 50per cent is the one linking the Ubungo Bus Terminal and Tabata Road via Kigogo.
He said that Ali Hassan Mwinyi Road, a major link between the historical town of Bagamoyo to the north, is lined up for expansion into a four-lane highway.
He also took the opportunity to remind the nation that the ambitious project, the Dar es Salaam Rapid Transport project is on the cards and will be beginning soon.
It is unfortunate that with all these and other efforts done by the government and city fathers to ease congestion on our roads, the problem seems to be here to stay. It is against this background that the initiative to have flyovers erected on our roads is good news to the ordinary person on the streets who endures the problem daily.
In fact, the construction of these flyovers and the DART project is something that is long overdue. The problem we have when it comes to such projects is not planning but implementation. Many important projects that could have solved the problem of congestion in the city have been shelved for too long a period.
These projects should be implemented without delay to lift the burden many city dwellers face whenever they think of travelling. It is also important to note that though poor road infrastructure is largely to blame for the problem of congestion on our roads, there are many other factors that the responsible authorities should deal with to lessen the problem.
For example, it is estimated that 480,000 seats of most private vehicles are unoccupied daily while thousands of residents are left stranded on the roads, scrambling for few commuter buses available. Awareness campaigns can go a long way in reducing traffic jams by encouraging those with vehicles to team up, if coming from the same area, and use same vehicles.
The government should also come up with incentives for people to opt leaving behind their vehicles and use public transport. Establishment of an effective public transport system will go a long way in encouraging people to use daladalas rather than their vehicles. This is why the DART project that should have been started sometime ago is key to the problem of congestion because as long as we continue to have an inefficient public transport system, then many people will be left without an option but to strive to buy their own vehicles and continue to congest our roads.
It is vital therefore, for all the responsible authorities to make sure that these key projects are executed without delay to save the country from unnecessary losses and ease wananchi's suffering on our roads as they endure excessive heat and long hours in traffic jams.